Chargers QB Carousel: Tyrod Taylor, Cam Newton, Or Door #6?

Cam Newton Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton. Photo Credit: Parker Anderson - Under Creative Commons License

The Los Angeles Chargers did great in free agency with the exception of that pesky quarterback position. They were spurned by Tom Brady but admirably moved on. And now is there a quarterback controversy in LA? The question is what quarterback is going to get off the carousel and lead the Chargers to a post season birth?

The options appear to have only three legitimate contenders. Let’s flesh them out, shall we?

Chargers QB Carousel: Tyrod Taylor, Cam Newton, Or Door #6

Door #6 – The 2020 NFL Draft

The Chargers currently have the sixth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here are five different mock drafts and their prediction for the Chargers:

Tua Tagovailoa

Majority rules. The Chargers draft Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa is recovering from hip surgery. Because of the policies in place surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, all team facilities are closed. This means no work-outs, no doctor to examine Tagovailoa, no pro-day.

Before his hip injury, Tagovailoa was the consensus number one quarterback for the 2020 NFL draft, and for good reason.

2018 stats: 355 passing attempts, 245 completions, 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 57 rushing attempts, 190 yards, 5 rushing touchdowns.

2019 stats (before injured): 252 passing attempts, 180 completions, 2,840 yards, 33 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 23 rushing attempts, 17 yards, 2 rushing touchdowns.

And then the dislocated hip against Mississippi State stopped his 2019 season. It should be noted the hip injury followed ankle surgery a month before. So is he injury prone? Or will the Chargers be swayed by his athleticism?

Is He The Answer?

Tagovailoa is a 6’1″ left-handed quarterback whose passing accuracy for the last two years has not dipped below 69%. In fact, before his injury, he had improved his accuracy to 71.4%.

In the last two years, he has averaged 11.2 and 11.3 yards per throw respectively, and he is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback.

With the injury, he would sit behind (most likely until fully cleared by his new team) whoever is the quarterback in 2020. That makes him not the answer for the 2020 season.

Which brings us to the next rider on the carousel.

Tyrod Taylor

If the Chargers do draft Tagovailoa, it will be a situation Taylor has seen before. Remember he was the starter when the Cleveland Browns drafted Baker Mayfield, only to be supplanted by the rookie midseason.

The last time Taylor played a complete season was in 2017 with the Buffalo Bills.

2017 stats: 420 passing attempts, 263 completions, 14 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 62.6% completion rate, 84 rushing attempts, 427 yards, 4 rushing touchdowns.

2018 stats (Cleveland Browns): 4 games played, 85 passing attempts, 42 completions, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 49.4% completion rate, 16 rushing attempts, 125 yards, 1 rushing touchdown.

2019 stats (Chargers Backup Role): 8 games played in, 6 passing attempts, 4 completions, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, 66.7% completion rate, 10 rushing attempts, 7 yards.

You can see where the trepidation comes from. Although to be fair, in his last full season with the Bills, he did lead them to a playoff game. A game in which he was knocked out of in the fourth quarter with a concussion.  The Bills lost 10-3.

Could He Be The Answer For One Year?

Since his time with the Bills, the stats have not been favorable for Taylor. The stats for the last two years have not been a picture of a full season.

When Taylor took the Bills to the first post-season game in 17 years, they were 6-6. He had been benched for Nathan Peterman, and then he got back on track. And that was a Bills’ team with a lot less offensive talent than he has now.

Cam Newton

Or is it Superman? Last week Taylor famously posted a picture of he and Newton working out together. They have the same offseason quarterback coach…so…not improbable.

Newton is currently a man without a team, which does seem improbable. Newton, a former NFL MVP is 6’5″ and 245 lbs., an athletic freak. He has also been injury-riddled.

The last time he played a full season was 2017, although in 2018 he did play 14 games. But the last time we saw him on the field wasn’t pretty.

2018 stats: 14 games, 471 attempts, 320 completions, 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 67.9%completion, 101 rushing attempts, 4 rushing touchdowns.

2019 season: 2 games played, 89 passing attempts, 50 completions, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, 56.2% completion, 5 rushing attempts.

In back to back seasons, Newton suffered a shoulder injury and then the Lisfranc fracture last season.

However, he also holds the NFL records for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and the most games with a passing and rushing touchdown.

So the Carolina Panthers’ decision to dump him is interesting, especially since it was reported he did pass a physical given by the Panthers.

If he is healthy is he a better option than Taylor?  He is less accurate, but with the talent he will have in the Chargers wide receivers, is accuracy going to be a problem?

His threat to run with the ball would definitely open up the field for not only the receiving corps, but Austin Ekeler could become the West Coast poor man’s version of Christian McCaffrey (too much?)

So Why Is This Carousel Still In Motion?

Is it? Is the carousel still going around and around?

The Chargers and head coach Anthony Lynn have stated they have confidence in Taylor. That was before Newton became available and after Brady took his talents to Tampa Bay. And the statements have never been definitive, shrouded in the “could be” language speak.

The carousel still spins because the Chargers have equipped themselves for a playoff run in every position except quarterback. With the options being less than “crowd-pleasing”, at least for this season, the carousel could very well spin way into the season.

Cam Newton Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton. Photo Credit: Parker Anderson – Under Creative Commons License